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[shahr-puh n] /ˈʃɑr pən/
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become sharp or sharper.
Origin of sharpen
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1400-50; See origin at sharp, -en1
Related forms
sharpener, noun
presharpen, verb (used with object)
resharpen, verb
unsharpened, adjective
unsharpening, adjective
well-sharpened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sharpened
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • One of them gave me his spear, which was very blunt, and I sharpened it for him.

  • Andy heard, for his ears were sharpened: "I thought for a minute—But it does look like him!"

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • In age, one's sight is sharpened—to see Romance in another's life, at least.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • These piles were stems, or trunks of trees, sharpened with stone or bronze tools.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • The humiliation of it ate into his soul; and the tooth was sharpened by his own misdeeds.

British Dictionary definitions for sharpened


to make or become sharp or sharper
(music) to raise the pitch of (a note), esp by one chromatic semitone Usual US and Canadian word sharp
Derived Forms
sharpener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sharpened



1520s, "bring to an edge or point," from sharp (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Sharpened; sharpening. Old English verb scearpian meant "to score, scarify;" cf. scearpung "scarifying." To sharpen (one's) pencil "prepare to get to work" is from 1957, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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